review

Razer Huntsman Optical Switch Digital Mechanical Keyboard

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Razer Huntsman keyboard looks like your run-of-the-mill mechanical switch/membrane switch keyboard with those super loud keys but internally, the Razer Huntsman works a bit more like a computer mouse as each switch on the Razer Huntsman has an optical sensor.
The Razer Huntsman is part of a new optical keyboard breed which takes the concept of the optical mouse using a sensor to fire a beam of light located at the bottom of the keyboard switches. The sensor is able to detect when and how the key is depressed and translate it into input. How accurate the sensor is able to detect the input completely depends on the design and make of the keyboard hardware and software itself; hence not all optical keyboards are made equal.
Optical keyboards can use either mechanical switches like the Razer Huntsman, but you can also get rubber membrane switches or a combination of both. The technology behind opto mechanical keyboards like the Razer Huntsman is nifty because of the use of light instead of metal contacts to register a key press. The actuation force of the Razer opto-mechanical switch is 45g which is the same actuation force as the Razer yellow switch.
With traditional keyboards, electrical signals are sent to the electronic printed circuit board of the keyboard whereas opto mechanical keyboards use a binary code to interpret your key presses; hence why opto mechanical keyboards are also referred to as digital mechanical keyboards.
The Razer Huntsman measures 44cm long, 14cm wide, 3.6cm high and weighs 860 grams so the Huntsman keyboard is easy to carry in a backpack. The design of the Huntsman keyboard is sleak with simple keycap font, roudned edges and aluminum matte top plate.
On the back, the Huntsman keyboard has 6 rubber pads to prevent it from sliding around on your desktop, as well two height adjustment feet to fit your comfort.
Speaking of comfort, there is no wrist rest on the Huntsman keyboard like you get with the Blackwidow Chroma V2 though you get the exact same braided fiber cable which is also found on the Naga Trinity gaming mouse
The Razer Huntsman has a standard qwerty layout with a 17 key numeric keypad, scroll keys, delete button, arrow keys and a sleep mode key which is the pause break key with a half-moon symbol.
You also get volume control keys: mute (F1 key), volume down (F2 key) and volume up (F3 key), as well as media keys: fast forward (F5 key), play/pause (F6 key) and remind (F7 key).
There is also a "on-the fly" macro record key (F9 key) and a gaming key mode (F10 key) which activates 10-key rollover anti-ghosting so the keyboard still registers when multiple keys are being pressed at the same time, as well as let you temporarily disable certain keys (i.e. Windows key) that get in your way.

The macro record key is activated by pressing Fn and F9 and allows you to record and save a button press sequence right from the Huntsman keyboard without having to use the Razer Synapse 3 software application.
RGB lighting is another feature you get with the Razer Huntsman keyboard and can be adjusted via the Synapse 3 software as well as from the keyboard via backlight control keys (F11 and F12 keys). The lighting of the led indicators cannot be customized.

The Razer Huntsman keyboard also features 1000Hz polling rate (1 milliseconds) which on a mouse means fast and accurate movement but not so much on regular keyboards with metal contacts because these type of keyboards have built in delay in keystrokes designed to prevent extra keystrokes that usually generate after a keypress makes contact to complete the circuit.
The keystroke delay is fairly short but long enough offset any benefits of having 1000 hz polling rate. With this said, because the Razer Huntsman keyboard uses light instead of metal contacts to actuate a key press, there is no keystroke delay; hence you benefit from high polling rate.
The Razer Huntsman keyboard comes with Razer Synapse 3 software which lets you configure the hardware of the keyboard. While the software is the latest, Razer Synapse 3 is still in beta testing so you can expect glitches. Synapse 3 improves on Synapse 2 by now allowing you to rebind buttons, assign macros, personalize Razer Chroma lighting, as well as Philips Hue lighting.
Chroma lighting is actually a replacement to the advanced Chroma configurator and allows lighting configuration of multiple devices at once. From the Lightning tab in the Razer Synapse 3 application, you can customize the lighting effects of the Razer Huntsman keyboard from eight effects
Synapse 3 also doesn't require you to sign up for a Razer ID account with your email address to access the application features as you can now log in via a "guest account" which doesn't even require an active internet connection.
You also don't require Internet connection to access profiles as you can save up to five profiles via the on-board memory of the Razer Huntsman keyboard.
These profiles can also be synced to the Synapse cloud so you can bring your Razer Huntsman keyboard to a friend's house and use those five profiles even if your friend doesn't have Razer Synapse 3 installed on their PC. To cycle between the stored profiles, you press Fn and the Menu key which is the key on the keyboard wedged between the Fn key, Shift key and Ctrl key.
The only drawback with Synapse 3 (other than being a beta release) is that Synapse 2 profiles do not work with Synapse 3 because of the different architecture and feature set, though with that said you can still run Razer Synapse 2.0 and Razer Synapse 3 at the same time.
As far support, Razer Synapse 3 does not work cross platform, only on PC so no support for Mac computers currently. Support for PC includes the 64-bit version of Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows. If you're running a 32-bit version of Windows 7 on your PC computer, you won't be able to install Razer Synapse 3 (or Synapse 2).
If you are contemplating to buy the Razer Huntsman you are basically getting the loud clickyness of a regular mechanical keyboard that helps you feel/hear the actuation point without bottoming out the key, coupled with better tactile feel and accuracy via optomechanical switches, which lend themselves better for typing faster so the Razer Huntsman keyboard would be suitable for coding and doing a lot of typing other than playing games.
2 years limited manufacture's warranty

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